Every type of civil lawsuit is subject to a certain time limits known as the statute of limitations.
If you intend to file a wrongful death claim in Texas, you need to understand some important facts about the statute of limitations on these cases:
1. If you are eligible to file a wrongful death claim based on your relationship to the deceased, you generally have two years from that individual’s date of death.
2. A second claim is possible, called a survival action. Essentially, this survival actions are the personal injury claims victims could have filed if they hadn’t succumbed to their injuries. The statute of limitations on a survival action is usually two years from the victim’s date of injury — not his or her death. That’s an important distinction to note.
3. The statute of limitations can be extended beyond the two-year limit in certain circumstances. Rarely, that includes situations where either the court or opposing party waives the limit for some reason. More commonly, it is used in cases where the statute of limitations is tolled, or suspended.
4. Statutes of limitations can be tolled for several reasons. A minor under the age of 18 has no legal right to bring a civil case on his or her own. If no one acts on that child’s behalf, the statute of limitations on a wrongful death case he or she is entitled to file doesn’t begin tolling until he or she turns 18 years of age.
5. The statute of limitations may also be tolled because those entitled to file a claim did not know and had no reason to know that their relative was a victim of an injury instead of a natural death. For example, a wife might be told that her husband’s heart simply failed during surgery because it was weak, only to find out a few years later that he was the victim of a surgical error and several members of the hospital staff conspired to cover up the accident. The clock on the statute of limitation would start ticking once she had reason to suspect her husband was the victim of a wrongful death, not before.
If your loved one died due to another person’s negligent, reckless or careless action, you may be able to seek compensation through a wrongful death case. An attorney can provide more information.
Source: FindLaw, “Wrongful Death Claims: Time Limits and the “Discovery” Rule,” accessed June 08, 2017